Maritime sector applauds relaunch of reconstituted education and training syllabus committee.

Pretoria: 07 July 2023

The relaunch of South Africa’s maritime sector education and training syllabus committtee in Durban a week ago, after a haitus of just over a year, has been warmly welcomed by the sector, and key to its significance, among other issues, described as being its enhanced inclusiveness.

Stewarded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), no less than 30 members of the committee, representing virtually all subsectors of the country’s maritime industry across public and private institutions, gathered in Durban over three days from Tuesday to Thursday last week (27-29 June 2023) for the formal relaunch of the national syllabus committee.

According to industry, the 37 member strong commitee’s notable enhanced inclusiveness, now also strongly entrenched through adoption of a new Constitution, and a Code of Conduct, denotes a welcome reapproach to needed broad sector stakeholders’ consultation and collaboration.

Ms Yvonne Wright, founder of Saldahna Bay based Project Maritime Training, Ms Alicia Moreland, Training Coordinator for Viking Fishing, a division of Sea Harvest, and Ms Theresa Williams, a Transnet executive for training, were among those that applauded the latest development.

Ms Theresa Williams. General Manager, Transnet Academy
Ms Alicia Moreland. Training Coordinator, Viking Fishing
Ms Yvonne Wrght. Seafarers Trainer, Progressive Maritime Training. Saldahna Bay

According to SAMSA, the legally mandated custodian and enforcer of the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021, the relaunch of the maritime sector education and training national syllabus committee last week followed its desolution in June 2022 due to gaps and weaknesses that were identified as hindering its intended objectives.

Among these, was the absence of guiding documentation regarding the committee’s composition and operations, which led to unseemly complications that hampered its effectiveness.

Following the dissolution, said SAMSA Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo last week, industry-wide consultation ensued over a number of months, eventually leading to both the development of a new Constitution and a Code of Conduct, as well as reappointment of sector representatives as members of the committee who were inducted during the relaunch meeting in Durban last week.

Mr Nelwamondo said the Syllabus Committee’s chief role is to serve as a sector advisory body on national maritime sector education and training for certification of seafarers across the board, in terms of the Regulations and, where applicable, strictly consistent with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping (STCW, 1978 for seafarers) and (STCW-F 1995 for fishers ).

As now fully outlined in the newly adopted Constitution, Mr Nelwamondo said the work of the Syllabus Committee is limited in focus to three aspects; the development, review and maintenance of the training and assessment standards for seafarers, through the Training Standards Code, development and submission of proposals for consideration amendment of Regulations, and identification and channelling to the authority of any other matters relating to the training, assessment and certification of seafarers, raised by members of the public.

Crucially, he added that with membership of the committee in three broad categories comprising ordinary, associate and invited person’s for purposes of formality (‘good order retention and continuity’); “The Syllabus Committee is a public engagement forum, therefore its meetings are open to all members of the public who have interest in the training and development of seafarers.

Below, is a 15 minutes interview with Mr Amwimmbavhi Nelwamondo, in which he fully explains the latest development.

Meanwhile, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, acting CEO of SAMSA described the relaunch of reconstituted Syllabus Committee, almost a year to the day since dissolution, as highly significant with regards to ensuring South Africa’s maintainance of high standards of seafarer education and training on an ongoing basis.

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

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Relaunched WOMESA South Africa Chapter has no more time to lose – commits new leadership.

Gqeberha: 05 June 2023

New leadership of the South Africa chapter of the Women in the Maritime in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA) has committed to hitting the ground running to ensure that development of country’s women in the maritime sector do not only make up for lost time but also stay abreast of new trends globally.

This is according to Ms Phyllis Difeto, the new chairperson of the eight (8) member WOMESA South Africa Chapter leadership elected during the relaunch of the structure in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 31 May 2023 following a few years of inactivity.

Among those who attended the two day event in Nelson Mandela Bay to lend support to the resuscitation of the domestic WOMESA chapter were Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga along with representatives of various public and private maritime sector business institutions, the Eastern Cape government as well as the Nelson Mandela Bay local government.

In her address of the event on Tuesday, attended by about 150 women in the maritime sector from across the country, Ms Chikunga urged that the election of the new all-women WOMESA South Africa chapter leadership should be premised primarily on development priorities for women in maritime, rather than on personalities; mindful of both a groundswell of support it can bank on across the region, but also of pockets of re-emerging blatant resistance in South Africa to multiracialism, transformation, and equitable development of all the country’s people.

For Ms Chikunga’s full remarks, click on the video below

WOMESA, an eastern and southern African structure now with membership in 25 countries and chapters in 13 of these, was founded in 2007 initially involving five (5) countries, among them South Africa. However, the domestic chapter collapsed and remain inoperational for a number of years, in the process, undermining women in maritime developmental efforts, but especially in South Africa.

According to Ms Difeto in an exclusive interview, that situation will have to change, fast, through among other things; ensuring a functional, attentive and focussed structure living up to its constituency’s expectations and aspirations.

“We can no longer make excuses for our failures,” she said, while describing her election to lead the revived WOMESA chapter as both humbling, and reflective of faith and trust the country’s women in the maritime sector have in her.

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

The relaunch of the WOMESA South Africa chapter in Gqeberha also had the blessing of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which, in a brief message, committed itself to render such support as may be needed from time to time.

For IMO Africa representative, Mr William Azuh’s message – delivered on his behalf by Ms Nokuzola Nkowane, Acting CEO of Ports Regular South Africa – click on the video below.

Various other organisations including WOMESA’s executive based in Mombasa, Kenya; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape government, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), AMSOL, Heron-Marine, and WISTA also expressed their support of the initiative.

Below are some of their statements as delivered by assigned representatives.

Mr Ndzimeni Ramugondo. Acting CEO. SAMSA
Mr Rufus Lekala. Chief Harbour Master. TNPA
Mr Odwa Mtati. CEO, SAIMI
Ms Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana. Harbour Master. TNPA Durban
Ms Nokuzola Nkowane. Acting CEO. Ports Regular South Africa and newly elected deputy chairperson of WOMESA South Africa Chapter.

This blog further sat down with SAMSA Chief Information Officer (CIO) Mr Ndzimeni Ramugondo and whose six (6) months term as the entity’s Acting CEO ended on Wednesday last week, to establish the significance and importance of the rescucitation of the WOMESA South Africa Chapter from the Transport Department agency’s perspective.

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South Africa proudly retains its IMO ‘Whitelist’ status for continued international validity of seafarers’ certificates.

Pretoria: 17 November 2022

South Africa’s stature as a global authority in maritime sector education in terms of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW Convention) remains intact as once more confirmed by the international body in London recently.

The IMO’s 1978 STCW Convention stipulates standards of training, certification and watch-keeping for seafarers. According to the IMO: “The main purpose of the Convention is to promote safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment by establishing in common agreement international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers.”

This latest positive outcome of the IMO sponsored independent audit of South Africa over two years effectively means that the country now proudly retains its IMO “Whitelist” status along with several other IMO Member States in the category and which in turn, literally means that Certificates of Competence (CoC’s) issued by South Africa to the country’s seafarers spread across the world retain their validity status.

Mr Kitack Lim. IMO Secretary General.

The report of the audit outcome on South Africa was delivered by the IMO’s Secretary General, Mr Kitack Lim to the United Nation’s maritime sector body’s Maritime Safety Committee in its 106th session held in London on 31 October 2022.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), a State agency under the Department of Transport, is responsible for management and administration of seafarer education and training in terms of the STCW Convention as it is also for keeping a register of seafarers.

For just over two years since the IMO in February 2019 announced a possible removal of the country’s Whitelist status, along with 89 other countries, SAMSA has been hard at work to ensure this did not occur and, according to SAMSA’s Deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller, the agency was now elated that it had succeeded in the endeavour.

Capt. Keller was on hand in London to receive and welcome the IMO Panel’s evaluation outcome and later expressed delight for the verdict, describing it as the “best news for South Africa, SAMSA, the seafarer and general maritime sector community in a while.”

The IMO verdict delivered in London simply read that: “The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, having solicited and taken into account the views expressed by competent persons, selected from the list established pursuant to section A-I/7, paragraph 7 of the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code, reports that the Government of South Africa, Party to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, has communicated information as required by regulation I/8, paragraph 3 of the Convention (2nd cycle report) and section A-I/7, paragraphs 4 to 6 of the Code, and that the information considered by the competent persons referred to in section A-I/7, paragraph 7 of the Code has demonstrated that full and complete effect is given by South Africa to the provisions of the 1978 STCW Convention.”

This was in reference to the audit’s findings on aspects of the STCW Convention relating to among others, convention regulations to be met inclusive of the STCW Code, and evaluation involving implementation measures and monitoring and compliance measures.

Capt. Vernon Keller, Deputy Chief Operations Officer: SAMSA

On landing back in South Africa a few days ago Capt. Keller said: “It is with great privilege to announce today that South Africa officially passed our IMO STCW Audit as assessed by a panel of experts.

“Our having successfully met and satisfied the IMO STCW Convention evaluation requirements means that we, as South Africa, give full and complete effect to the STCW convention. This also means that the South African STCW Certificate of Competence remains recognised internationally, and is in good standing, and therefore South African seafarers and companies do not have to worry about losing their jobs because their CoC’s fall off the whitelist,’ said Capt. Keller.

Extending a word of gratitude to all those that contributed to the achievement both at SAMSA and elsewhere, Capt. Keller said: “As a team, we have all worked hard towards this moment. Despite the many challenges that we faced as an organisation over the last few years, we again proved that through great adversity, only by working together can we achieve great things.”

“As South Africa, we can now actively pursue more STCW Regulation 1/10 agreements with other flag states to help create more job opportunities for South African seafarers,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IMO audit outcomes of South Africa’s STCW Convention continued positive compliance status comes as the country had recently signed a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU’s) with a few countries relating to the mutual recognition of seafarer’s certificates.

Among these were Ghana and Panama. These two countries (represented by their administrations) concluded COC recognition MOUs with SAMSA during the staging of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event (WMDPE) in Durban last month – an historical event itself for South Africa insofar as it marked the first time the IMO has held the annual global event involving some 175 of its Member States on African soil.

SAMSA Chief Examiner, Capt. Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo

Meanwhile, also remarking on the latest IMO/South Africa STCW Convention development, SAMSA Chief Examiner, Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo said: “I don’t know what to say – I thought I’d have a speech, but I am speechless. I’m having to think hard about this. As a great man once said, ‘it seems impossible until it is done’.

“I didn’t think doing one’s job could bring so much joy. I am entirely grateful to the team that worked alongside me this whole time. The focus and ability they demonstrated has been amazing. The quality of the work they did was amazing. It is testament to their efforts that the Independent Evaluators made no non-conformities against the Quality Standards System we have built.”

End.

South Africa, Ghana and Panama find mutual agreement on seafarers certification.

Pretoria: 26 October 2022

Panama and Ghana have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Africa that will for the first time, allow the countries to formerly recognise each other’s seafarers’ certificates under the same condition within which the countries accept all other foreign certificates.

The arrangement signed into operation by South Africa with each of the two countries separately on the sidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) World Maritime Day Parallel Event (WMDPE) in Durban recently, is in terms of provisions of Regulation I/10 of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW Convention).

From Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), the agency’s Director-General, Mr Thomas Alonsi, led the delegation that included Mr Nana Bokkye-Boampong, acting director of marines services; Dr Richard Lartey, deputy director, planning, monitoring and evaluation; Capt. Clifford Kodjo Adjarko Osei, deputy director of technical services as well as Ms Barbara Oforiwaa Darko, the deputy director of maritime services.

On the Panama bilateral agreement, representing the Panama Maritime Authority were the Director of the General Directorate of Seafarers, Captain Juan Maltez and Panama’s Ambassador and Consul to South Africa, Mr Jorge Ricardo Silen. For South Africa was acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA, Ms Zamachonco Chonco.

The signing of the bilateral agreement between the PMA and SAMSA – the South African authority for seafarers’ certification – occurred following representations by the Panama maritime authorities earlier this year calling on South Africa to recognise seafarers’ certificates issued by both countries. Both are members of the IMO as is Ghana.

The basis of the request, according to SAMSA; was that there are over 3000 South African seafarers (certificate and uncertificated) serving on Panamanian ships in various roles.

“Panama Maritime Authority thus requested that there be formal recognition of certificates as required by the STCW Convention, such that those performing functions requiring Certificates of Competencies may be formally accepted on ships flying the flag of both parties.

This led to an interim arrangement being agreed to earlier in the year that allowed seafarers holding certificates issued by Panama Maritime Authority to serve on the South African ships.

From Left: Capt. Juan Maltex, Panama Maritime Authority’s director of the General Directorate of Seafarers and Ms Zamachonco Chonco during the signing of an MoU on seafarers certification in Durban recently. Looking on (standing) is Mr Vusi September, Head of SAMSA’s Centre for Corporate Affairs.

At the Durban International Convention Centre during the signing of the agreement , Captain Maltez described it as “… a clear and concrete manifestation of the commitment of each of the Administrations, to continue strengthening ties, promoting collaboration and guiding future efforts, to work on improving the training of the levels of competence and the certification processes of seafarers, seeking to guarantee the safety of human life and property at sea, maritime protection and the protection of the marine environment.

“On the other hand, the Agreement will facilitate the embarking or contracting of Panamanian seafarers, promoting national labor, so that they can work on board the vessels of the South African Registry,” he said.

In terms of the agreements with both Panama and Ghana, according to SAMSA; the new arrangement is that a holder of a South African Certificates of Competency

  • May now have their certificates recognised and able to find employment on ships from those flags (and vice versa)
  • May now work on ships flying the Ghanaian flag,
  • Seafarers trained at Regional Maritime University (RMU) – one of Africa’s largest maritime universities will have access to employment in Africa’s most technologically advanced economy
  • Have access to employment on one of the biggest Merchant Fleet in the world (Panama)

The MoUs between South Africa, Ghana and Panama are the latest addition in a list of similar agreements now topping just over 30 countries. The list includes Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jordan, Kuwait, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, United Kingdom and Vanuatu.

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Maritime world’s eyes on seafarers globally this weekend for celebration in recognition of their immense role in oceans transportation!

Pretoria: 24 June 2022

Once more, the world’s maritime sector will have its eyes squarely on seafarers globally this weekend to celebrate them in recognition of their incredible role in sea trade transport and related 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

June 25 is the officially appointed Day of the Seafarer celebrated annually each year since its establishment just over a decade ago by a resolution of a Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010.

It has since been followed by the establishment of the International Day for Women in Maritime, celebrated on 18 May for the first time this year.

Twelve years on, the Day of the Seafarers however, remains the most important annual calendar event to date for many maritime countries that are Member States of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which leads it by coordinating and deciding the theme for each of the June 25 annual events.

According to the IMO, “The Day of the Seafarer provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers (risen to 1,89-million by 2015 in 74 000 merchant vessels) for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution to the well-being of the general public, and we would like to do it using as many social media networks as possible.

“The Day of the Seafarer is also an opportunity to educate the public about issues facing the modern-day seafarer – issues such as piracy. But, most importantly, it is the occasion for us, the world, to say ‘Thank you, seafarers.’

This year’s theme picked by the IMO is: “Your voyage – then and now, share your journey” with its choice and significance explained thus: “Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges.

“For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now share your journey’, look at seafarer voyages, what it includes and how has it evolved over time and what remains at the heart of seafarers’ reality. This campaign gives seafarers a chance to share what resonates with them currently, whether it’s the crew change crisis being unresolved or the future of technology.”

With June 25 falling on a Saturday this year, South Africa, one 175 Member States of the IMO; will celebrate the day on Monday, 27 June 2022 with the ceremony marked simultaneously at the same time in three coastal cities; Cape Town, Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) and Durban, the latter city being where the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula or his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga is currently earmarked to deliver the main address.

The live staging of the event next Monday will mark the first time in two years that the Day of Seafarers is celebrated in the traditional ‘town hall’ setting since being disrupted and forced to online platforms by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

This passing week, the country’s maritime sector joined the pre-event activity attaching to this year’s theme, with several companies and entities calling on South Africa’s seafarers to share their career journey stories, notable among these being SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Amsol and others and using their social media platforms to publicly share the stories.

While no official word had come forth from either the DoT or SAMSA about Monday’s event prior to publication of this article, nevertheless this blog understands that the Durban leg of it will feature a discussion session involving Government, its agencies as well representatives of the maritime sector inclusive of educational institutions as well as seafarers, all focusing precisely on seafarers’ experiences and anticipations.

A preliminary draft list of likely participants in the session includes Dr Langa Dlamini, Executive Manager: Economics and Statistical Services at the Durban based Moses Kotane Institute, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, Manager: OHS & Maritime Welfare at SAMSA; Mr Nkosinathi Manqele, HoD for Maritime Studies Department, Durban University of Technology; Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, South Africa; Mr Durand Naidoo,  Chief Executive Officer: Linsen Nambi; Ms Pinky Zungu, Deputy Harbour Master, Durban (TNPA), Captain Thobela Gqabu, SAMSA Regional Manager: Eastern Region, and a set of yet to be confirmed seafarers’ representative.

Anticipated topics for exploration through discussion include; Government’s role and commitment to South African seafarers, and individual institutional perspectives one the subject from the Maritime Regulator (SAMSA – the Registrar of Seafarers and Custodian of Seafarer Welfare), Maritime Education, Training and Research, Employers of Seafarers and perspectives of Seafarers themselves inclusive of their gender-specific related experiences and future expectations.

Also in the preliminary list of speakers on the day, in addition to the Minister or his Deputy, are KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni or DoT Chief Director: Maritime Policy and Legislation Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Mr Bheka Zulu who is both a SAMSA and Moses Kotane Institute Board Member, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, SAMSA Acting CEO; Dr Thandeka Ellenson CEO of the Moses Kotane Institute and Mr William Azuh Head: Africa Section, Subdivision for Maritime Development, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO.

As per tradition, a recorded video message about this year’s event theme by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim will also be shared.

Monday’s event in all three cities is currently scheduled to begin at 9am through to 2pm

As usual, this blog will attempt to capture such visuals of any of the events as shall be possible during the day.

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South Africans generosity puts paid to inhumane conditions faced by crew of abandoned vessels in Durban: SAMSA

Pretoria: 17 February 2022

It will be a while, if ever again, that crew of a set of vessels reportedly abandoned at the port of Durban will face inhumane conditions, largely characterised by starvation – thanks to the generosity of South Africans during the last month that has ensured them enough food and other necessities supplies.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) seafarers’ welfare office in Durban, which together with two other non-governmental organisations, the Mission to Seafarers and Meals on Wheels SA set the alarm in January after the 18 crew members were found to be starving on board the three vessels which have been declared abandoned by the IMO in January 2022.

The vessels involved, two of them – the PSD2 and PSD104 are sister offshore supply vessels that are both Tanzanian flagged, while the third, the MT Fairy Tale – is a Belize registered tanker.

The MT Fairy Tale and the PSD2 had been at the port of Durban for over five years while the third (the PSD104, the second of the Tanzanian registered) had docked at the port in January 2022. The seafarers on board include 11 Indians, one (1) Iranian and six (6) Bangladeshi nationals.

Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Seafarers’ Welfare.

According to SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Seafarers’ Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, not only did groups of South Africans respond positively, speedily, with donations that have ensured enough food and other necessities supplies, but the widely publicised plight of both the seafarers as well as the vessels themselves drew attention of both the owners as well as the Indian government’s attention.

Support was also being received from the International Transport Federation (ITF) which had assisted the crew members arrest the vessels, anyhow, following complaints from the crew, and which matter was now set for the courts, according to SAMSA.

 “The media has really helped put pressure on the owners,” said Mr Rantsoabe, adding: “They have been coming on board trying to reach settlements with the crew and telling them they saw the story in the media. One of them was very embarrassed about the diesel story and started providing diesel and he had not done so in five (5) months.

More food supplies to crew members of abandoned vessels at the port of Durban donated by a local community group, Newlands Diwali Festival (Photo: SAMSA)

“The crew are now also able to contact their families through the generosity of the Mission to Seafarers who provided them with Wi-Fi routers.

“The International Transport Federation has also provided money for food via the Mission to Seafarers, which is used to supplement whatever is provided by the two charity organisations.

“At the moment the seafarers are very grateful and feel that they have enough food to last them through February. The ITF has also procured fuel for the two vessels that can take fuels, which will help run the engine and generators.

“We have also received calls from charity organisations such as NEDFEST… (such that) presently food supplies will not be an issue again for this crew,” he said.  

Their movement outside the vessels was still restricted, however, and therefore not allowed to leave the port. The difficulty said Mr Rantsoabe; was with the fact that the vessels did not have Port Agents who assume official direct responsibility for vessels and crew once in the country’s ports.

However, SAMSA facilitated a dialogue with the port authorities (Port Health, Immigration, SAPS, TNPA) who in the end, working jointly together with Shipmed and Mission to Seafarers; made the vaccination of all the seafarers possible on Wednesday last week (09 February 2022). They were transported under SAPS escort to a vaccination clinic.

“They were all smiles after vaccination,” said Mr Rantsoabe

Some of crew members of the abandoned vessels at port of Durban pictured while they were all taken to a local city clinic for their Covid-19 vaccination. Prominent in their company is the Rev.Fr Thami Tembe of the Mission to Seafarers. (Photo: SAMSA)

Mr Rantsoabe further reported that a week ago, he and SAMSA Durban region Principal Officer, Captain Gqwetha Mkhize accompanied a team from the Indian Consulate to the PSD2 and PSD104 vessels. “They stated they will be putting pressure to the Flag State and the owners’ country using diplomatic means (State to State basis).”

Abandoned vessels’crew pictured while being visited by Indian Consulate officials in the company of SAMSA senior officers, Durban office Principal Officer, Capt. Gqwetha Mkhize and OHS& Seafarers Welfare manager, Mr Sibusiso Rntsoabe a week ago (Photo: SAMSA)

On how long it can take to have both the situation of the crew and vessels resolved, Mr Rantsoabe said: “Unfortunately that question is difficult to answer. Normally once SAMSA gets involved things move quickly and the company pays.

“Detention does work because the owners normally want to get the ship out of the port as soon as possible. However, in the case of the Fairy Tale there is no hurry. The vessel is not going anywhere unless somebody buys it. So as SAMSA we can fine and detain but detaining a vessel that does not intend moving out becomes just a futile exercise, especially when owners pay the fines, but detention remains.

Capt. Vernon Keller, SAMSA Deputy Chief Operations Officer.

Remarking on the latest developments regarding the crew of the vessels, SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller applauded the effort of all those involved, including the role the media played in sharing the plight of the seafarers, but added that as far SAMSA was concerned; “it is an amazing effort by the SAMSA team…but our job is not done.”

Said Capt. Keller; “Our seafarers kept this world moving forward throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, transporting essential cargoes around the world, yet seafarers struggled to let the world understand that they are essential workers.

“They were forced to spend more time onboard their vessels unable to go home, some even lost their family members and could do nothing about it.  The psychological effect that this pandemic had on the seafarer will be studied for years to come.

“As an ex-seafarer, it pains me to know that there are still seafarers who are being treated even worse than during the pandemic by unscrupulous ship owners and managers. Administrations should stand up across the world and say enough is enough. If these seafarers were airline crew, the world would stand up and listen, so why are we not affording seafarers the same respect. Seafarers have truly become the forgotten few.

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IMO Council seat loss disappoints South Africa: SAMSA

South Africa’s representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Seassion that began on December 06 in London,, Mr Sipho Mbata, casting a vote during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council on Friday (10 December). South Africa lost its seat during the elections.

Pretoria: 15 December 2021

South Africa’s failure to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council last Friday, coupled with Nigeria’s failed effort to gain a seat, has come as a significant disappointment for the country.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) following the country’s loss of its seat during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council for the 2022-2023 biennium in London last week.

South Africa, along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco were the five African IMO Member States and candidates vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member council. Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya retained their seats.

Reacting to the development at the weekend, SAMSA said it was disappointed for South Africa following Friday’s IMO Council elections. SAMSA, a State agency operating under the Department of Transport, works closely with the department and relevant others in terms of IMO related matters. SAMSA and DOT officials often travel to the IMO in London where they serve of different IMO committees and South Africa also has a permanent representative at the organisation.

However, both DoT and SAMSA officials could not make it to London this time around for this year’s IMO 32nd Regular Session of the Assembly where the IMO Council was elected, due to strict travel conditions related to the recent and currently ongoing resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic infections across the world.

The United Kingdom immediately placed South Africa on its travel ‘red list’ shortly after the announcement by South Africa health scientists of the discovery in South Africa of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19.

Thus, on Friday, senior DoT officials inclusive of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; Acting Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya supported by staff from Maritime Branch as well as SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane and Head of SAMSA Corporate Affairs, Mr Vusi September; gathered at a Pretoria venue to participate virtually during the IMO Assembly session from Monday last week.

Leading to Friday’s IMO Council elections, South Africa was cautiously optimistic it would retain its seat on the Council. However, when the vote outcome was eventually announced in London late afternoon, there was visible disappointment among all the officials gathered in Pretoria for the event.

For limited highlights of Friday’s event in London and Pretoria, click on the video below.

A brief overview of last week Friday’s IMO Council (Category C Candidates) vote and the reaction from South Africa

In the aftermath, with a formal country reaction statement expected from Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; SAMSA’s acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Mashiloane expressed disappointment insofar as SAMSA was concerned.

“For SAMSA, it is just to say that we are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the IMO Council vote, but even so, we will continue supporting the IMO work and ensure that we continue with our concerted efforts in respective committees to advance the African approach with respect to implementation of IMO Conventions we have acceded to. So, emphasis will be enhancing our work in Legal, Technical Committes, MSC and MEPC,” she said.

After the conclusion of the elections, the IMO congratulated the 40 Member States that were voted to constitute the Council for 2022-2023 biennium as follows:

  1. Category (a): 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order)

China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States

  • Category (b): 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates

  • Category (c): 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world:

Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Vanuatu.

The IMO statement further said: “The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 32nd Assembly, for its 126th session (on 15 December) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium.”

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IMO COUNCIL ELECTIONS: South Africa optimistic of retaining her seat during the highly contested elections on Friday.

Pretoria: 09 December 2021

With only a day to go before the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 176 Member States gathered in London this week, and next; for the 32nd Regular Session of their Assembly, decide on who among 49 countries vying for election will constitute its IMO Council on Friday, South Africa remains cautiously optimistic to retain its seat.

South Africa, located at the most southern tip of the African continent with approximately 3000km of a coastline stretching across three oceans, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Ocean to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – and therefore holding a globally significant geographic maritime position – is among a group of five countries from the continent vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member Council for the 2021-23 period.

The others are Egypt, Morocco (Mediterranean), Kenya (Indian Ocean), and Nigeria (Atlantic Ocean). Voting for the 40 member IMO council takes place on Friday, using an in-person-private vote system.

South Africa, one of the founding members of the IMO but subsequently suspended from active membership for many years until 1995 submits that it is optimistic, however, cautiously; that it will retain its seat.

According to its submission to members of the IMO Assembly this week, its optimism arises from its consistent, active participation in especially the technical work of the IMO, this in addition to its being a “State Party to the key IMO Conventions that promote safety, security and the protection of the marine and atmospheric environment.”

Among these are the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS); the Marine Environment Protection Convention (MARPOL) and the Search and Rescue Convention.”

The port of Cape Town, one of South African commercial ports spread almost evenly across the country’s approximately 3000km coastline, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean,

South Africa states: “The Government of the Republic of South Africa is convinced that South Africa’s re-election to the Council will further contribute to the ongoing efforts towards the achievement of the goals of the International Maritime Organization (MO).”

These include safety of property and life at sea, protection of the environment from pollution by ships, as well as active promotion of the maritime sector domestically, regionally and globally – all mandated through legislation to a strategically located agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to discharge, under the watchful eye of the national Department of Transport.

With eight specialised commercial ports and several small vessels harbours spread across the coastline from the border of Namibia to the west (Atlantic Ocean) to Mozambique in the east (Indian Ocean) – variously catering to an ever-growing global trade cargo, marine tourism and academic research fleet of vessels of various sizes – the country’s active and continuous contribution to IMO activities remains vital.

Delegates of countries that are members of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understandinng during ther annual general meeting in Cape Town in 2020

South Africa is also a part of the western Indian Ocean regions that contain 14 major commercial ports – seven of her own (Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, East London, Durban and Richards Bay (South Africa) as well as those in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Maputo, Beira, Nacala, Quelimane, Pemba (Mozambique), and Mombasa (Kenya). These serve as hubs for traffic emanating from, and destined for, Europe, Asia, the Americas and the east and west coast of Africa.

In addition to the large cargo ships traveling internationally, the country says; many smaller boats serving local needs ply the coastal waters and harbours and, in the process, adding to the considerable navigation risks faced by large ships.

In its submission to the IMO Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session ahead of Friday’s IMO Council Elections, the country states: “South Africa as a fully democratic country continues to be an active and loyal member of the International Maritime Organization. The Government of South Africa is very keen to continuously work with the IMO towards promotion of safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.

“South Africa has developed domestic legislation to implement the adopted Conventions and such pieces of legislation include the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act, 1998. The Act establishes SAMSA as an agency of government charged with the responsibility to promote safety of shipping; protect the marine and atmospheric environment and promote South Africa’s maritime interests.”

Senior Department of Transport officials during a visit of the South African Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in Cape Town in 2020

To this end, South Africa boasts among other things; a dedicated Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC) that positions her as a regional leader in terms of hosting state-of-the-art search and rescue infrastructure and services for the Southern African Region:

“As a coastal State, we manage and maintain a system of AIDS to navigation including lighthouses, a fully-fledged Marine Hydrographic Service, as well as Emergency Response Capacity, which includes a Search and Rescue Centre, Emergency Towing Vessel, Information and Communication Systems.

“These systems give assurance to international shipping on the safety of shipping along the SA coastline as well as supports the entire Southern African Region.

“Our search and rescue region extend to Antarctica and our LRIT Data Centre caters for more countries in the region. We have over the years fully discharged our duty of ensuring order at sea by all the systems we have put in place, including our anti-piracy initiative in the Mozambique Channel.

Delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean during a four day conference in Cape Town in 2019 under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.

“South Africa (also) became a member COSPAS/ SARSAT programme since May 2001, and the system in Cape Town detects on a yearly average 607 Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) that transmit on 121.5 MHz. Detection of the modern and new technology 406 MHz beacons is 4 increasing and at the moment, the averages are 200 detections per annum, and this is based on the information passed on to South Africa.

Alongside that aspect of work, SAMSA conducts inspections on foreign vessels visiting her ports and regionally, the country works in tandem with neighbouring countries conjoined by their borderline access to the affected oceans. South Africa is a member of two port state control regimes; the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding and the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding.

It is also notable that South Africa was the first country worldwide to formally implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) inspired and driven Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) – a pioneering position that has since led to her consulting extensively with other countries still at early stages of the convention’s implementation.

Delegates from three South East Asian countries – Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand during a week long visit to South Africa in 2019 to glean the country’s experience with the implementation of the ILO C188 Convention.

At this year’s General Assembly, South Africa is backing fully the IMO General Assembly’s adoption of entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement. In her submission South Africa says that in terms of current arrangements, for the Agreement to be in force, at least 22 States with an aggregate number of the qualifying fishing vessels must ratify/accede to it.

To date, 16 States with an aggregated fleet of 1907 eligible fishing vessels have ratified the instrument.

South Africa’s view is that: “South Africa, as the host of the International Conference on the Safety of Fishing Vessels held in Cape Town in 2012 and signed the Agreement and the 2019 Torremolinos Declaration, supports the adoption of the draft resolution on the entry into force and implementation of the Agreement.

“The entry into force of the Agreement will increase safety standards on fishing vessel design, construction and equipment will also positively impact the working conditions of fishing vessel personnel and the safety of the search and rescue and emergency response services in mitigating the consequences of fishing vessel casualties. Furthermore, the Agreement will assist in the prevention of marine pollution, including plastic pollution, from fishing vessels and in combatting IUU fishing.”

In addition, from a global marine law perspective, South Africa has a long tradition with the Maritime Law Association of South Africa populated by some of the world respected jurists, thereby ensuring that its maritime arbitration capability is one of the well-respected in the world.”

The country states: “South Africa can therefore, with its strategic position at the tip of the continent straddling three oceans, coupled with our well-established technical capability and skills base, make a meaningful contribution to the activities of the IMO Council in service to international shipping.

Delegates from 25 countries that are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) three day workshop in Durban in November 2018

On global collaboration in general, South Africa was due to host the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020 but the IMO had to postpone the event due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The outgoing IMO Council had, however, approved retaining South Africa as host of the event in 2022 conditional to the COVID-19 pandemic trends.

During this year’s IMO Assembly, South Africa also intends to sign the Jeddah Amendment to Djibouti Code of Conduct (the Code) with the IMO Secretary General. The Code aims to suppress transnational organised crime and other illegal activities at sea.

On the elections of the new IMO Council for 2022-2023 biennium , while South Africa remains optimistic of retaining her seat, should things go completely awry for some inexplicable reason, the country may still stand a chance of returning to serve in the council as currently there is a proposal before the IMO Assembly to expand the council’s membership from 40 seats to 52.

The proposal, which South Africa has given her support, further calls for the IMO Council’s term of office to be extended from two (years) to four (years).

In her submission to the IMO Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session currently underway, South Africa states that: “South Africa would like to support the draft amendments to Articles 16, 17, 18, 19(b) and 81 of the IMO Convention and the associated draft Assembly resolution.

“We believe that the expansion of members to the IMO Council will ensure that there is diversity, geographical spread and representation of the interests of all IMO Member States.”

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Women firmly taking centre stage in maritime sector globally – IMO to celebrate them annually

IMO meeting hall, London (Photo: Courtesy of IMO)

Pretoria: 07 December 2021

Technological advancements in global shipping and related activity in the maritime sector, along with the global impacts of the rampant unseizing spread of the Covid-19 may remain central to discussions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 175 Member States General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session currently on – in a hybrid format – from London; however, women empowerment in the sector also remains central.

That’s at least according to the immediate past president of the Assembly, Ms Nomatemba Tambo – currently South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and the country’s permanent representative at the IMO.

According to the IMO, citing a BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report, women represent only 1.2% (or 24,059) of the global seafarer workforce. However, the IMO says that while this may seem miniscule in comparative terms, in actual fact, “..this represents a positive trend in gender balance” as it reflects a 45.8% increase compared with 2015 figures. 

Currently, the IMO working in conjunction with the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International) is conducting a global maritime industry survey intended to “obtain baseline data on the number of women in maritime and oceans fields and the positions they occupy.”

The plan, say the IMO and WISTA; “…is to repeat the survey every three years…..our aim (being) to support implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by having comparable data that will assist us in creating programmes and proposing policies that will increase the participation of women in maritime.

“This will help promote a more diverse and inclusive environment in our sector. We will publish a report on the aggregate numbers that will be available to all interested parties.”

Ms Nomatemba Tambo, outgoing President of the IMO General Assembly (Regular Session) is South Africa’s permanent representatives at the IMO and the country’s HIgh Commissioners to the United Kingdom.

In her final presidential speech reflecting on work of the IMO over the past two years, on Monday Ms Tambo applauded the international organisation for formally endorsing the establishment of a dedicated day to celebrate women directly, annually, in the maritime sector, beginning next May.

She said: “I ….commend the IMO for declaring 18 May as the International Day for Women in Maritime. This is a great step in celebrating women’s efforts and their contribution to the maritime and shipping industry. I believe that this initiative will succeed in raising the profile of women, removing the barriers of entry and addressing gender imbalance faced by women in the maritime and shipping sector.”

The IMO Council agreed on the establishment of the dedicated day for women in maritime at its November 2020 meeting and now, it’s due for formal adoption as a resolution by the General Assembly currently gathered in London for its 32nd Regular Session, beginning Monday this week through to Wednesday next week.

From a South Africa pespective, the development is partly a direct result of the IMO’s inclusion of more female officials in its governance structures, as exemplified by Ms Tambo’s ascendancy two years ago to the presidency of the organisation’s General Assembly.

South Africa, one of several southern and eastern African countries involved in an initiative to relaunch the Women in Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA), but rescheduled due to South Africa’s inability last October (2020) to host the IMO General Assemby Parallel Event billed for Durban owing to the global oubreak of Covid-19, views Ms Tambo’s contribution in the maritime sector as pioneering.

Ms Tambo’s two-year reign ended on Monday with the election of Philippines’ permanent representative to the IMO, Mr Mr Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo as the successor. However, his 1st Deputy is yet another Southern Africa woman, Ms Linda Scot of Namibia.

Effectively, this means that two women, both of Southern Africa will have been at the helm of the IMO General Assembly for a combined four years both as President and deputy President respectively and successively – a historical record to date.

Ms Tambo remains South Africa’s permanent representative at the IMO.

On the establishment of a dedicated maritime women’s day, last November, the IMO Council’s explanation of its decision was that; “Once adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2021, the observance will celebrate women in the industry, promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.”

The development immediately received praise from the IMO’s Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim. “I welcome the Council’s adoption of this proposal.  Not only does it further efforts to achieve SDG 5 on gender equality, but it is a perfect follow-on action to the IMO Assembly’s resolution and call to achieve a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding.” said Mr Lim at the time

After being formally endorsed this week by the General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session members, the day will feature prominently among the global maritime sector’s annual calendar that already includes a Day of the Seafarer (June) and a World Maritime Day (October).

In the meantime, in his opening remarks of the IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session in London on Monday, Mr Lim confirmed that the 2022 World Maritime Day will be “New technologies for Greener Shipping”. This year’s World Maritime Theme was: “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future

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IMO bi-annual 32nd General Assembly (regular session) kicks off in London – Africa in the thick of it!

The start of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) bi-annual General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session in London on Monday (SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 07 December 2021

The start of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session, held as a hybrid model, in London on Monday marked both a low point and watershed moment for South Africa – the latter as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the former owing to its expected weighty contribution in this session.

The Assembly – traditionally meeting once every two years – is the highest governing body of the IMO, responsible for approving the international body’s work programme and budget, determining its financial arrangements and electing the IMO Council.

Durban, South Africa; was billed to be the next host of the 175 Member IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020, but that was postponed due to the outbreak globally of the Covid-19 pandemic, and whose grip remains tight in many countries across the world even this year. That effectively robbed South Africa of the opportunity of hosting the prestigious event on its home soil, and the African continent, for the first time ever.

However, on the upside, it has emerged that South Africa may still host the event in 2022.

South Africa, – a founding member of the IMO in 1959 but whose membership was then suspended during the apartheid era and only readmitted during the dawn of democracy in 1995 – plays a highly significant role as an IMO Member State from the African continent, inclusive of holding membership of the IMO’s 40 Member Council, thereby currently placing among only four maritime countries holding membership of the body from the African continent.

South Africa holds a Category C level membership of the IMO Council, along with the Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.

As it were, at this year’s gathering that began in London early on Monday, South Africa lived up to its reputation as a significant contributor at the IMO, playing a critical role in the nomination process of the next IMO Assembly regular session President, by lending its full weight behind a United Kingdom proposal of Mr Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo of the Philippines as the next President of the IMO Assembly. Other supporters were Peru and Turkey.

With his election confirmed, Mr Lagadmeo will succeed a South African, and the first woman from the country to hold the position of an IMO General Assembly President; Ms Nomatemba Tambo, after her election to the position in December 2019. She was and remains South Africa’s High Commissioner to the UK since 2018.

South Africa Transport Ministry Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga during the IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Session that started in London on Monday and due to last until next Thursday

Leading South Africa representation at Monday’s first sitting of the IMO General Assembly was the country’s national Transport Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga who during the first plenary at about lunchtime, announced the country’s support of the UK’s choice of Mr Ladgameo – an ambassador and permanent representative of the Philippines at the IMO – as the IMO’s next General Assembly president.

In her brief remarks announcing the country’s secondment of the nomination, said Ms Chikunga: “The resume presented by the distinguished delegate of the United Kingdom gives us the sense of comfort and confidence that His Excellency Mr Antonio Manuel Lagdameo has the required skills and expertise to preside over this important session of the Assembly successfully. On that note, Madam President, South Africa humbly second the nomination of His Excellency Mr Antonio Manuel Lagdameo as the President of this 32nd regular session of the Assembly.”

For Ms Chikunga’s brief remarks, click on the video below

Later, in her congratulatory message of Mr Ladgameo’s formal confirmation as president, Ms Chikunga said: “South Africa would like to congratulate His Excellency, Mr Antonio Manuel Lagdameo of the Philippines for elected as the President of the 32nd regular session of the Assembly. We have no doubt that he will lead this session with success and distinction.”

South Africa further delighted also in the election of Ms Linda Scot of Namibia as the 1st Vice President of the Assembly. Acknowledging her also as one of South Africa’s own – a claim based on Ms Scot’s academic education obtained at the Universities of the Free State and Cape Town – Ms Chikunga described the moment as a reaffirmation of “our role and commitment of the SADC to enhance the blue/oceans economy.”

South Africa also congratulated Mr Raphael of Italy as the 2nd VP, with Ms Chikunga stating that: “…we have no doubt that these two distinguished nominations will be of great assistance to the President of the 32nd regular session of the Assembly.

South Africa’s delegation to the last IMO General Assembly’s 31 Regular Session, led by South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula (Front Centre) during which Ms Nomatemba Tambo (Front: Right), South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdowm, was elected the General Assembly’s President. Her term ended this week

She added: “Madam President, South Africa would also want to take this opportunity and thank all the IMO Member States for electing the High Commissioner of South Africa to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency, Ms Nomatemba Tambo in 2019 as the President of the 31st regular session of the Assembly. Your tenure as the President of the 31st regular session befitted the 2019 theme of the IMO of “Empowering women in the maritime community”.

“We are most grateful to the IMO Member States and the Secretary-General who offered this prestigious opportunity to South Africa to preside over the last Assembly.”

South Africa’s Ms Nomatemba Tambo, the country’s HIgh Commissioner to the United Kingdom and IMO General Assembly’s Regular Session’s outgoing president

Meanwhile, in her remarks as the outgoing president of the IMO’s General Assemby, Ms Tambo reiterated the country’s full commitment to ensuring that work and programmes of the IMO are fully supported both by South Africa and the continent.

Expressing her own gratitude for the opportunity she had leading the IMO General Assembly, said Ms Tambo: “South Africa is a country with special interest in maritime transport and is strategically located in one of the major shipping routes. It is surrounded by three oceans: the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. 

“South Africa continues be a good partner with the IMO and as well as in the Djibouti Code of Conduct system to deter and curb the spread of piracy to our sub-region. In this regard, South Africa maintains the deployment of military craft along the Mozambique Channel as a deterrence against the spread of piracy, armed robbery and human trafficking. 

“This record of accomplishment of providing the port services to ships calling our ports, excellent coastal state services and search and rescue capabilities in the region are of critical importance to the mandate of the IMO and international shipping.

She added: “For my country, South Africa, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all Member States for your confidence in electing me in 2019 as the President of the 31st regular session of the Assembly. 

Next up for South Africa this week will be the election of Members of the IMO Council on Friday morning, an event during which the country is vying to ensure that it retains its Council membership and status.

The IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Session’s 11-day sitting ends on Thursday next week.

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